Thursday, April 25, 2013

Color Correcting

As promised- here is the first installment of my new Q&A feature!

Here is a question I received from a sweet budding photographer:

Hello Jordan, 
I have a question to ask if you don't mind. I think many photographers have different ideas on this topic as well. I recently photographed a Senior girl who decided to wear a bright fluorescent halter top. While the top was beautiful and really accented her skin, my camera photo came out with the color reflecting on her skin. I tried so hard to get rid of it but it wasn't happening. So my question is: 
1) Does a photographer need to let their customers know what not to wear to a photo shoot? Or do they just let them come as they want?
2) is there a way to make this type of thing not happen on camera?
3) is this something you would need to fix in photoshop, or is this something that happens and you just give them what you have?
lol.. i know, i guess this is a learn as you go type thing.  I've been looking at that photo for days now trying to figure out what to do with it.  While it looks great, as a photographer, my eyes go to the bright spot. 
Again, I really thank you for your time in answering my question.  I am slowly getting to where i want to be one day.  

Why Hello there, L! 
You are right- as with every question I receive, there are probably a million different answers and every photographer might give you a different one. Thus the beauty of "individuality"! I'll answer this question (and all others) to the best of my ability based on what I would do in the situation.
1. I absolutely guide my clients in wardrobe selection! When we speak in advance, I ask what colors they are thinking of wearing and most clients actually ask for recommendations! I would definitely advise my clients to stay away from solids with a strong color cast. (This is where patterns/neutrals/and layering comes in!) ;) Anywhoo...sometimes there is just nothing we can do about what a client wears to a shoot. Maybe the outfit has a special meaning or they are going for a certain colorscape to match a room in their house. Of course there are many situations where you can not control what color the client is wearing at all (i.e. prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, etc.)'s what you do...
2. There is no way (to my knowledge) of avoiding color casts in camera (aside from watching the light, avoiding angles where the sun only heightens the color, etc.) *note: this does not refer to white balance, which is another topic entirely...

3. The answer lies in post processing. I use Photoshop CS6, so I will be explaining how I would go about fixing a color cast using this program. Of course, there are a hundred different ways of fixing color casts in photoshop...but this is the way I typically do it:
I recently did a birthday studio shoot with a bunch of florescent colored balloons. I got this one shot that I just loved, but alas, the bright orange balloon was casting an awful glare on the little girl's skin. Here is my straight out of camera (SOOC) shot:

(aside from the awful bluish tint covering the entire image (should have adjusted my white balance) you see the bright orange on her face and arm?)
There are many things I did to correct this image, but for the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to stick to the color cast issue. The first thing I did was open up a curves layer. With the "finger"/dropper tool I selected the center of her forehead and pulled the midtones up. This just brightened my entire image up and made it easier for me to see "true to color".
The next thing I did was open up a Hue/Saturation layer. Using the "finger"/dropper tool (underlined below) I grabbed the darkest part of the color that I wanted to get rid of. In this case, the "orangest" part of the balloon. Now, you'll notice, there is no "orange" in the drop down menu, but the beauty of this feature is that whatever you select with your dropper, the hue slider will automatically select as the color it reads. In this case, it reads the orange as "red". I then lowered the saturation bar which removed almost all of the red from my image- thus making it very blue & washed out. Don't panic...that is what masking layers are for!!!
I then took my new hue layer (white box in the bottom right corner) and inverted it ("command I" on a Mac). Now we have a black box (see below) and all of our red cast came back. So we take a soft white paint brush and paint on our picture where we want the red cast removed (her face/arm). 
(Always remember with masking layers: white paint brush reveals, black paint brush conceals). 
In this case we want to "reveal" the hue/saturation layer we just created.
See how it takes the "orange" off her face/arm, but leaves it everywhere else in the picture? Here is a quick before & after so far:
Another option is to use your "Selective Color" tool. Think of your picture like a big color wheel. If you reduce the red, you will be lifting the blues, etc. (Did you notice how pale/blue our little girl has gotten after reducing the red in the "after" picture above? We'll want to fix that later.) 
For now- let's talk "Selective Color".  Since we are dealing with skin tones, you want to make sure you select "neutral" from the drop down menu. You can then fool around with the sliders until you get the desired effect. Since there is no "orange" option, I slightly reduced the magenta and the yellows.
Like with the hue/saturation layer, we want to invert the mask to black, then paint our effect back on with a soft white brush. I painted just over where the orange cast was strongest (side of her face and arm, including the edge of the balloon as well.) I adjusted the opacity to get the look I desired.

And THAT is how I would tackle a strong color cast. 
Please note, that is NOT how I would finish editing this image!!
It still needs a lot of work- including fixing her skin tones, sharpening a touch, a little crop, and playing with my vibrance slider. 
I've attached the final edit of this image just so you can see the different between where we left off and the end product. 
While Skin Tones do fall under the "color" category- I just can't cover them here. Skin tones are a whole other tutorial...we're talking CMYKs, awesome skin-correcting actions, color balance, etc..... ;)
Final Product:

And just because I always find side-by-side B&As helpful...

I hope this has been helpful!
Feel free to share, pin or comment....and keep those questions coming!! :)

xo -J

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Giving Back

When my good friend, Liz Labianca asked me to help assist at her group "Momtering" (mom mentoring) session, I was more than happy to tag along. 

I'm not going to lie, though, I was nervous. What if I got in the way? What if I wasn't as helpful as she needed me to be? Good Lord, what if one of the moms asked me a question that I didn't know the answer to! 
I was nervous about being put on the spot in a room full of strangers.

Well, it was a lot of worrying for nothing. Yes, of course, there were times where I second-guessed my helpfulness, times when I was put on the spot with a difficult question, times where my knowledge was challenged. But guess what else? For each moment where I felt useless, there were 5 where I felt that my presence was helpful. When challenged with a question, after stopping to think, I found that I already knew the answer. These amazing moms were enthusiastic, at times overwhelmed, but always eager to learn and apply their new-found knowledge. I learned something from them and their fearlessly confident teacher, Liz.

This experience made me realize that although there is always more to learn, I need to stop questioning where I am in my journey, and embrace it, share it.

I'm not sure if many of you know this about me, but I used to be a teacher. Participating in this day of learning made me realize something that I always used to instill in my students: teaching others something you have learned only instills a deeper understanding within yourself. 
 How quickly I had forgotten the power of sharing.

So thank you for the continued inspiration, Liz. 
And thank you to all of the moms for reminding me of this invaluable lesson.

 In honor of "giving back" I am going to start taking limited questions from you! Simply email your photography-related question to I'll be selecting a few questions once a week/month (who knows, I'm still working all of this out!) to answer right here on the blog,

So, ready? set? Submit!
(You can request for your name/info to remain private!)

*Included are selected images from Liz's Momtering session with my settings attached. 
Happy Shooting, friends! :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

VDay Editing Sesh!

Happy Heart Day, friends!
Here's a little before and after with some super simple editing tips, from me to you. 
A little way of saying thank YOU for your continued means more than you will ever know!

Ready to edit in 3 simple steps without using ANY actions? 
Here we go...

Straight out of camera image:

1. The very first thing I did was run a basic curves layer. I knew I wanted to brighten up the mid-tones but I also did not want to loose the colors of the sunset in the background, sooo after running curves (#1), I used a black brush to erase the curves layer just along the horizon line and the sky (#2). 
See the subtle difference?

(with full curves layer applied- see how the colors from the sunset are all washed out?) 

(with horizon painted black to bring back color)

2. My next step was to add a yellow photo filter to warm up the skin tones. I lowered the opacity to about 20%. I then painted this off the rocks and the blue sky, leaving it just on her skin and on the horizon line. (I could have "sunnied" the image up using a few other steps, but I'm going to keep it simple for now!)

3. My last step was some major tinkering with 3 of my favorite, burn, and sponge! I burnt out the corner edges for depth, sponged over the colors I really wanted to "pop", and lastly did a quick (large, soft) dodge brush over her to make her really jump off the screen.

*Note: Be careful with the sponge tool. "Excessive Sponging" can cause some chromatic aberrations (I just learned alll about this!)  in your image (which I don't always mind, necessarily...but everyone has a different opinion!). Pretty sure I caused some in my final image but I don't mind for this particular photo.

 Aside from some knit-picky cloning adjustments, that's all I did! Here's the finished image again along with a side by side b&a (so you don't need to keep scrolling to the top)! 

Hope you enjoyed this super simple 3 step edit!!

~Before & After~

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to let me know on FB or by leaving a comment below! 
(just so I know whether or not I should continue doing them!) 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Workflow Share!

Went out shooting with a friend the other night and got this adorable shot of her little girl! Unfortunately, the shadow lines on her face just ruined it for me.

Here is  the image straight out of camera:

 I loved how sweet and playful she looked, so I knew it was worth playing around with a bit! A little tweaking in photo shop gave me this final product...

Here are my workflow steps:

1. First I opened a basic curves layer to lighten the overall image and bring up the midtones.

2. Then, I ran Liz Labianca’s “black and white affair” action & made the following adjustments:
[brought up opacity on ‘darken shadows’ layer and ‘brighten midtones’ layer,  tweaked the pop layer, inverted the lighten mask and painted it back on using a low opacity white brush- just over her face.]

3. To get rid of those pesky face shadows was a bit tougher. I  created a new layer from the background (control J) and then took out my burn & dodge tools! I painted over the shadows using dodge at 100%, and then lowered the opacity. I ran this step several times until the shadows were gone. I then took out the burn took and painted back some of the naturally occuring face shadows. I played on this layer for quite some time- tweaking away until her face looked normal. When I was finished  I took the dodge tool one last time and changed the brush size so it just covered the circle between the eyes/nose. One quick click was all she needed to brighten up her face & give her that bright eyed glow!

4. Next I ran a sharpen mask and painted lightly over her eyes, eyebrows,  and those cute hair wispies to really make them pop!

5. Lastly, I ran a new layer and used the burn tool (followed by a small brush over a new sharpen layer mask) to bring back those adorable freckles on her nose that were lost during all of that “dodging”! (I think they are hard to see at this size...but I promise, they are there!)

That’s it!

I flattened my image, added my watermark, and resized it for the web!

Hope you enjoyed my 1st ever tutorial!
Maybe some screen shots, next time?

(Psst...Here is the template for sharing/pinning)
© JJM Photography